Greek authorities announced on Friday that the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown which started on November 7 is further extended to February 15, while an earlier night curfew and closure of retail stores on weekends is imposed in red zones, like Attica and Thessaloniki in northern Greece, in order to avert the third wave of the pandemic.

“The image of the epidemiological load nationwide has deteriorated. We need to climb a hill. It would be a pity to give up now that we have started vaccinating vulnerable groups. We can avert a new wave,” Vana Papaevangelou, an associate professor of pediatrics who participates in the committee of experts advising the Greek Health Ministry on the management of the Covid-19 crisis, said during a regular press briefing broadcast on national broadcaster ERT, Xinhua news agency reported.

With 8,500 active cases across Greece, 1,600 hospitalized, a surge in daily cases this week in many regions and 63 percent occupancy of beds in intensive care units for Covid-19 patients in the Attica region, the government decided to implement additional measures based on experts’ proposals, she explained.

In Attica and other regions classified as red zones, the night curfew on weekends will now begin at 6:00 p.m. (instead of 9:00 p.m.) until 05:00 a.m., while all retail shops, hairdressers and other stores on weekends will be closed, with the exemption of supermarkets and pharmacies, Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management, announced during the same briefing.

During weekdays, shopping will be conducted only by click away system (customers put their orders by telephone or online and pick up the product outside the shop) and consumers will no longer be allowed to enter any store by appointment, he said.

In addition, in all red areas students of high schools will continue online learning.

Moreover, the municipalities of Santorini and Mykonos islands, the city of Halkida near Athens, Patras port in western Greece and the city of Lasithi on Crete Island — where new daily confirmed infections almost doubled in the past week — will be placed under a complete lockdown.

In these five areas, all schools of all levels will close and only supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries and gas stations will be open, the official noted.

On Friday, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced 1,195 new cases and 19 deaths within 24 hours. Greece has now registered 162,107 confirmed infections and 5,922 deaths since the first case was diagnosed in the country on February 26, 2020.

The number of cases of the mutant variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in Britain has now risen to 228 in Greece in the past two months, EODY announced, while one case of the mutated strain that was first detected in South Africa was identified in Thessaloniki on January 31.

–IANS

int/